U.S. Negotiators Extend Stay in South Korea Ahead of Possible Trump-Kim Meeting

Former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol meets with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Washington. Chol has presented Trump a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A team of U.S. negotiators in South Korea extended their stay Friday as President Donald Trump confirmed that a planned meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore this month is still on schedule.

According to South Korean outlet Chosun Ibo, “The U.S. team led by Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim were expected to leave South Korea on Thursday, soon after a second meeting with the North Koreans, but Washington told them to delay their departure.”

The extension comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dined with Kim Yong-chol, a U.S. Treasury-sanctioned “Specially Designated Person” and leading official in the Kim regime, in New York on Wednesday night, after which Pompeo expressed confidence talks were “moving in the right direction.”

“Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship, and it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste,” Pompeo said after the meeting.

On Friday, Kim Yong-chol visited the White House to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong-un to President Donald Trump, a week after Trump canceled a proposed summit in Singapore due to the “tremendous anger and open hostility” displayed in North Korean statements.

However, Trump now appears hopeful that the meeting will be rescheduled, as diplomats continue to prepare for what would be a historic meeting between two leaders who have threatened to destroy each other’s country.

“We’ll see. And, hopefully, we’ll have a meeting on the 12th,” Trump said this week. “That’s going along very well, but I want it to be meaningful. It doesn’t mean it gets all done at one meeting; maybe you have to have a second or a third. And maybe we’ll have none.”

On Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also indicated that the White House was hopeful a meeting between the two men would take place.

“We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12 and we’ll be ready if it does happen on June 12,” Sanders told reporters.

On Thursday, it emerged that North Korea is continuing to carry out military drills in the Korean peninsula despite ongoing peace negotiations with both the U.S. and South Korea, at the same time as Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held another meeting in the demilitarized zone.

An alleged CIA intelligence report partially obtained by NBC News reportedly concluded that intelligence officials unanimously agree that the regime is likely to give up its nuclear weapons program in the near future.

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